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Old 06-08-2022, 09:57 AM
 
Location: Early America
3,124 posts, read 2,071,815 times
Reputation: 7867

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
Well photographs where in their infancy then, and most slaves weren't photographed anyway. And I never specifically said that his master has met me.

So all he could really do is give a description of his runaway slave, such as black male, about this age, height and weight. And that's a pretty common description.

I suppose he could have a composite sketch drawn up and have it distributed in Northern papers, due to the fugitive slave act, but telegraphs didn't transmit images, just words, so someone has to travel north to bring those sketches to the printing presses, and we'd already be ahead of them.

By the time all that's accomplished we'd probably be North of the Mason Dixon Line if I haven't already gotten him into Canada.

Again, we'd already be ahead of them. Maybe we even travel by railroad ourselves, boarding a train before they can, as I'm a man of relative means, we could travel a lot faster than a runaway slave on foot who needs to conceal himself.
Neither of you would be free and clear just by crossing the Mason Dixon line. Many would know about him from newspaper ads before you arrived. The federal government was tasked with capturing fugitive slaves and imprisoning anyone aiding them so they would be on the lookout, as well as slave catchers. Ordinary citizens too, especially if there was a reward which was often the case.

Newspaper ads were typically more detailed than age, height and weight (you can look these up), even when there were no identifying scars or other marks. There is also a chance of reports that someone matching his description was spotted traveling with a Pennsylvania white man who was seen in the area of SC at the time of his escape. It might have been easier to pass him off as your servant rather than your slave.

If your fugitive looks, acts, speaks and is dressed like a field slave, I disagree that people would be used to seeing an upper class white man traveling with one. If he is dressed well when you take off with him, his clothing might also be described in the newspaper ads. Either way, you would have to dress him differently before embarking on your journey, and that would be tricky since it wasn't planned. Don't forget about the patrols in SC.

It would not be a walk in the park to do, or a quick trip in 1850. Easier if you could get forged documents (unlikely) and were an experienced traveler, along with a convincing reason to be traveling to Canada. You would not be as anonymous as you might think.

If your plan is to write a novel, script, etc., I say go ahead. It might be interesting.

Escaping SC by sea with your fugitive might be safer if you have plenty of money for bribery, but the story might not be as thrilling.
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Old 06-08-2022, 10:55 AM
 
Location: Apex, NC
791 posts, read 369,287 times
Reputation: 1074
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
Funny how you think I am Naive or a Northerner. I am a southerner who used Pennsylvania as an example as a free State because it is just north of the Mason Dixon line.

My scenario is "meeting a slave who wants to be free." Sight and recognition being key parts of a "meeting."

I merely asked how, in an area where slaves sometimes outnumbered whites 10 to 1, it would be so unusual to see a slave accompanied by a white person that people would feel the need to inquire.

Some have mentioned that mannerisms might give me away that I'm not from around there.

But lots of slave owners in the south weren't from around there. As another user pointed out, there were plenty of Northerners who relocated to the south because there was money to be made.

During the gold rush of 1849, it's not like all prospectors were local to California.
You seem bound and determined to argue with everyone that points out anything that might throw a wrench in your scenario.

You ask "how hard would it be..." and then poo-poo every point anyone makes.

What's your endgame? What are you hoping to accomplish?

Is there anything, in any post but your own, that you agree with in this thread?
.
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Old 06-08-2022, 12:11 PM
Status: "119 N/A" (set 27 days ago)
 
12,964 posts, read 13,681,864 times
Reputation: 9695
Just seeing person of African decent alone on the city streets or byways would not be an immediate issue of concern. This person could be a; Freedman, a Free Man of Color, a hired out slave, or a virtual slave, or perhaps a runaway. Depending on where you were, slave owners didn't have many friends among the religious or common folk. Even many of their wives hated the institution. By 1850 Abolitionist fervor was so widespread that spiriting a poor wretch away from the evil un-Christian empire should not have been too difficult.
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Old 06-08-2022, 12:23 PM
 
Location: Early America
3,124 posts, read 2,071,815 times
Reputation: 7867
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
Interesting points, and actually I'm not writing a book, just wondering if it could be done.

I agree the initial leg of the journey, when we are still local to the area would be the tricky part. Locals who know the slave and know the master would probably escort us back there and ask him if he sold the slave to me. So he'd have to be concealed then.

The clothing issue shouldn't be too hard to overcome. The nearest town or city would have tailor shops and stores that sell clothing.

I could get a close estimate of the slaves size, and buy him some proper clothes, and meet up with him later.

If we aren't the same size and the shopkeep is wondering, then I'm simply not shopping for myself. I could say I'm buying clothes for my son, or buying a three piece suit as a birthday gift for my brother. Here are his measurements.

If forged papers are necessary, then an upper middle class man hailing from abolitionist country shouldn't have a hard time finding someone to make up the paperwork before heading south.

Just fill in the blanks with the pertinent info.

Even the seal of a judge or magistrate shouldn't be hard for a forger or artist to imitate.
You said you would pass him off as your slave. Tailors and shops wouldn't have slave cloth, or make something for a slave.

Ordering clothes for a family member far away from home? No. Suspicious. They probably already knew of your presence in the area before you came in. In any case, news of this weird, suspicious yankee would travel ahead of you. You would at least have to assume so.

You haven't worked out how to gain access to slaves. How do you just ride onto a plantation and do that? Even if you could gain access, talking to slaves would make you highly suspicious. No one would trust you and you'd be lucky to leave unscathed. Doubtful any slaves would talk to you either, or even look at you, for fear of punishment. They wouldn't trust you either and probably would think it's a trap.
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Old 06-08-2022, 05:21 PM
KCZ
 
4,677 posts, read 3,671,743 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thriftylefty View Post
Just seeing person of African decent alone on the city streets or byways would not be an immediate issue of concern. This person could be a; Freedman, a Free Man of Color, a hired out slave, or a virtual slave, or perhaps a runaway. Depending on where you were, slave owners didn't have many friends among the religious or common folk. Even many of their wives hated the institution. By 1850 Abolitionist fervor was so widespread that spiriting a poor wretch away from the evil un-Christian empire should not have been too difficult.

Abolitionist fervor didn't mean that its proponents actively participated in helping escaped slaves, particularly after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. In addition, there were bounty hunters roaming the border states, and working class people in the North who opposed and attacked former slaves whom they viewed as competitors for their jobs. Mobs formed to attack anti-slavery groups. Garrison was nearly tarred-and-feathered in Boston. There were plenty of informers to report escaped slaves to the authorities.
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Old 06-08-2022, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
4,088 posts, read 2,564,078 times
Reputation: 12495
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Laramie View Post
I didn't say anything about buying slave cloth or mentioning that I am shopping for a slave. Slaves that traveled with the masters family were dressed considerably better than that.

I find it hard to believe that a northerner traveling in the south, provided they are white, wasn't allowed to go into a store and buy something. There were a lot of people who relocated to the south from the north for business purposes, king cotton being what it is and all. Did all those guys go naked and hungry?

So if I as a man from Philadelphia walked into a clothing shop in Charleston, here's how I see things going:

Me: "Pardon me sir, but how much for this here three piece suit, and how much for these shoes?"

Shopkeep: "Suit is $10, $2 for the shoes."

Me: "Thank you sir, I would like to purchase these. Here's $12 dollars."

Shopkeep: "Thank you, good day to you sir."

Tell me where you think the conversation would deviate from my version?
In 1850, ready-to-wear clothing of the type that you're describing would have been virtually non-existent. Prior to the Civil War (and really prior to the end of the nineteenth century) most clothing was either homemade or bespoke, that is, made to measure by a seamstress or a tailor.

Your hypothetical gentleman would have stuck out like a sore thumb and, had he does as you're suggesting while coincidentally a slave disappeared (one who likely was a house servant rather than a field hand), all that custom suit of clothing would have done is given the advertisements placed in the newspapers of the day more descriptive material to work with.

A plan like this might have worked if it was just that--a carefully executed, long range plan with the gentleman being only a conductor to a safe station on the Underground Railroad rather than a traveling companion who was the sole individual guiding this hypothetical runaway slave to freedom in Canada. The longer that they were paired together as traveling companions, the greater the risk of being caught (and being fined/imprisoned for the white individual and severely punished for the escapee) would have been.

What you're describing sounds like a slave peering out from under a bush at a white man who he heard speaking with a Northern accent and asking for help with an escape, which would have been highly unusual if not nigh onto impossible.
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Old 06-08-2022, 06:48 PM
 
Location: Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
4,088 posts, read 2,564,078 times
Reputation: 12495
Quote:
Originally Posted by KCZ View Post
Abolitionist fervor didn't mean that its proponents actively participated in helping escaped slaves, particularly after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. In addition, there were bounty hunters roaming the border states, and working class people in the North who opposed and attacked former slaves whom they viewed as competitors for their jobs. Mobs formed to attack anti-slavery groups. Garrison was nearly tarred-and-feathered in Boston. There were plenty of informers to report escaped slaves to the authorities.
Exactly. A lot of the immigrants and working class folks in the North resented free blacks as they were competition for jobs. It's not as if racism, prejudice, and fear only existed in the South. Things often got just as ugly, if not uglier, up North as they did down South.
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Old 06-08-2022, 08:06 PM
Status: "119 N/A" (set 27 days ago)
 
12,964 posts, read 13,681,864 times
Reputation: 9695
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly Known As Twenty View Post
Exactly. A lot of the immigrants and working class folks in the North resented free blacks as they were competition for jobs. It's not as if racism, prejudice, and fear only existed in the South. Things often got just as ugly, if not uglier, up North as they did down South.

None of that mattered. Having some modicum of freedom made it all worth while. They didn't necessarily need to run to where they were liked. They just needed to be free. They also needed to be where people would fight for their human rights . Those people were a network of northerners called "The Vigilance Committee," It was during the 1850's that the south (plantation owners) knew that Northerners could not be trusted with their(the south's) slave property irrespective of the Fugitive Slave Law. (see the Anthony Burns case)
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Old 06-08-2022, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
4,088 posts, read 2,564,078 times
Reputation: 12495
Quote:
Originally Posted by thriftylefty View Post
None of that mattered. Having some modicum of freedom made it all worth while. They didn't necessarily need to run to where they were liked. They just needed to be free. They also needed to be where people would fight for their human rights . Those people were a network of northerners called "The Vigilance Committee," It was during the 1850's that the south (plantation owners) knew that Northerners could not be trusted with their(the south's) slave property irrespective of the Fugitive Slave Law. (see the Anthony Burns case)
Oh, I know. It's just that it seems as though the popular narrative for most people who aren't into history is that the North was good and the South was bad; that everything was hunky dory once an escaped slave made his or her way up North. It was so much more nuanced than that. It's not infrequent even now that it's quite obvious that Pittsburgh isn't that far from the Mason-Dixon Line, but that's a topic for another forum and another day.

A fair number of escaped slaves never made their way to Canada, but settled in the predominately black areas of Pittsburgh where they would have blended in for the most part...until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. At that point, being quite fearful of being captured and returned to slavery, quite a few of them fled further north and crossed the border into Canada.

And just as you wrote, Southern slave owners knew that Northerners could not be trusted with their human chattel, making this hypothetical Northern businessman/visitor an object of suspicion should he be observed interacting with this hypothetical slave. It wouldn't have been impossible to aid a slave in his or her escape, but a higher degree of success would have to involve more than just one man aiding and abetting the escapee.
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Old 06-08-2022, 08:53 PM
KCZ
 
4,677 posts, read 3,671,743 times
Reputation: 13310
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly Known As Twenty View Post
Oh, I know. It's just that it seems as though the popular narrative for most people who aren't into history is that the North was good and the South was bad; that everything was hunky dory once an escaped slave made his or her way up North. It was so much more nuanced than that. It's not infrequent even now that it's quite obvious that Pittsburgh isn't that far from the Mason-Dixon Line, but that's a topic for another forum and another day.

A fair number of escaped slaves never made their way to Canada, but settled in the predominately black areas of Pittsburgh where they would have blended in for the most part...until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. At that point, being quite fearful of being captured and returned to slavery, quite a few of them fled further north and crossed the border into Canada.

And just as you wrote, Southern slave owners knew that Northerners could not be trusted with their human chattel, making this hypothetical Northern businessman/visitor an object of suspicion should he be observed interacting with this hypothetical slave. It wouldn't have been impossible to aid a slave in his or her escape, but a higher degree of success would have to involve more than just one man aiding and abetting the escapee.

Interestingly, Frederick Douglass was critical of organizations like the Underground Railroad because he felt they weren't secretive enough and provided a road map for owners and bounty hunters to track down escaped slaves.
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